3M announced this week a new sourcing policy that ensures all the virgin wood fiber going into its paper-based products and packaging comes from sources that protect forests, and respect human rights.

The multinational conglomerate that makes Post-it notes and masking tape buys millions of tons of pulp and paper each year and will refuse to buy from any company using illegally or unethically logged trees. The policy also requires protection of high carbon stock forests and high conservation values, like intact forest landscapes, peatlands and the habitat of endangered species.

3M is partnering with The Forest Trust and Dovetail Partners to learn more about the threats facing forests in its supply chain.  Implementation of the policy throughout 3M’s global operations is a substantial undertaking, involving more than 70 countries and 5,000 pulp and paper suppliers, each with their own manufacturing facilities and supply chains.Bolivia wetland lake - by Omar Rocha, WWF

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“In addition to the environmental elements of today’s policy, it also sets strong standards related to social concerns, including respect for workers’ rights and indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent to operations on their traditional lands,” said the company in a news release. “Under the new policy, all paper-based products and packaging suppliers are required to provide information on the original forest sources of the virgin pulp in 3M’s products, and allow those sources to be assessed against 3M’s policy.”

3M was  under pressure from a multi-year campaign by ForestEthics challenging the company to strengthen its commitment to protect forests and endangered wildlife, and to support rights of forest-impacted communities. Greenpeace joined the campaign in 2014. The above photo shows the huge banner hung by ForestEthics on a bridge in Minneapolis, where the company’s headquarters is located.

“To drive change across the industry, 3M will engage with its direct and indirect suppliers, to educate them on the forestry issues addressed in the policy, and support them to set up their own responsible fiber sourcing programs. The hope is that this will have a ripple effect in driving positive change beyond 3M’s fiber supply, leading to widespread market demand for protection of forests and respect for workers’ and indigenous peoples’ rights. “

Photo Credit: ForestEthics

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